Toronto Mayor Election Odds 2018

What are the odds of John Tory or Jennifer Keesmaat winning the Toronto mayoral election in 2018? I have posted a pool on CoinRoster where users can bet on who will win, and observers can view the chances for each candidate.

Here is a link to the Toronto Mayor betting pool

The Toronto municipal elections will be held on October 22nd with polls closing at 8pm. At the time of writing based on the few opinion polls that have been conducted, it seems like John Tory is the favourite. I’ve put money in the pool so that the initial odds have Jennifer Keesmaat as the 3/1 underdog. CoinRoster is a bitcoin based site, but if you don’t have any bitcoin, you can also sign up with a promo and get a dollar worth of bitcoin to use for free.

Opening a FanDuel Account

Today I’m going to open a FanDuel account. My plan is to make a deposit and play PGA and NHL fantasy.

The first step to to enter your e-mail address, username, and password. Once I enter these credentials, FanDuel takes me to a page where I’m asked to choose my favorite sport. In my case, this is golf (and it seems like FanDuel assumes I only have 1 favorite sport).

The first thing I’m noticing right away is its been a few minutes after opening my account and FanDuel seems intent on prompting me to enter a free contest (which I’m not interested in, I’d rather just play PGA for stakes). So I quickly choose a seemingly random lineup of players and enter the free signup contest.

After hastily entering a free contest, I’m now ready to make a deposit. I choose the $100 amount and enter my credit card credentials. FanDuel users can also deposit using PayPal. But after trying a few different times, I was unable to make a deposit using either of these methods. I assume my credit card (visa) that could not be processed (as I tried paying with visa by way of my PayPal account also), I guess my card issuer might not process payment for FanDuel, I’m just guessing. But after I disabled the popup blocker from my browser and tried making a PayPal deposit debiting my bank account directly instead of my credit card, I was able to make a $100 deposit and receive a $20 deposit bonus.

Gearing up for DFS hockey season

Starting with the 2018/19 NHL season, I’ll be posting my experience playing daily fantasy sports (DFS) on this blog. I’m planning on playing both NHL fantasy and PGA fantasy and I’ll be playing on multiple sites in order to compare my experience. I’ve only ever played fantasy sports casually as a fan and sometimes with friends, but this season my goal is to try to find an edge and look for ways to win. I’m not sure if this is even possible, especially considering the rake and competition, but I’m going to try.

I’m not sure yet how big my stakes will be and which sites I’ll be playing on specifically, but I’m sure I’ll try the biggest sites such as Draftkings & FanDuel, and I’m also hoping to learn more the smaller sites such as StarsDraft & FantasyDraft. I’m also going to compare and combine DFS with sports betting, and I’m also planning to investigate the legal side of DFS and sports betting.

Wish me luck. If anyone has promo codes to share or strategies to suggest, please add your comments below.

When in Rome

The next day we boarded our train in the early afternoon and were headed off to our last stop Rome!

After an uneventful journey we finally arrived in Roma Termini.  Once off the train we had heard about a wonderful market inside the train station and after a little searching finally found it.

The metro underneath Termini station

During some previous research we had discovered Bonci pizza and decided to give it a try.  We each had a few slices and then headed to our next Airbnb.  Our Airbnb was located near a metro station so within an hour we were in and acquainted with the new unit.  Like the last, this one also had A/C as well as laundry which was great for us.  We decided to sit down for a few mins and watch the World Cup finals.  It was unfortunate for Croatia, but France did play better.  For the rest of the night we started to explore the area around our unit getting our first glimpse of the Tiber as well as a lovely market along the shoreline with various popup bars and music.  Finally we finished the night with a late visit to Eataly which we had missed in NYC and I thought it would be great to see and experience the food there.

We had decided that the following day we would try and see the Pantheon, Trivvi Fountain, and maybe get to the Colliseum as well.  We got up in the morning, showered, and headed out into the busyness that is Rome.  Our first stop was a spot known only as “the pyramid”.  It was built for Gaius Cestius around the year 12BC.  This is the kind of stuff you see everywhere in Rome, ancient stuff!

The Pyramid at night

After this we made our way into the the main part of the city and visited some Piazza’s that had amazing fountains.  Eventually we made it over to one of my favourite buildings in Rome, the Pantheon.  This is a Roman temple built around the year 120A.D. and is one of the best preserved buildings in all of Rome.

The Pantheon

The ceiling is one of the most striking features of the entire structure.  It has a poured concrete dome shaped roof with a centre hole for the sunlight to come inside.  The ceiling looks like it was built yesterday and is in an almost unbelievable condition.

The amazing ceiling

Another nice aspect is that the Pantheon is free to enter and had minimal queues when we went.  After a stop for an Aperol spritz we moved on to another section of the city.  We walked through some of the touristy areas and eventually came across the Spanish steps.  The name Spanish Steps comes from the fact that the Spanish embassy used to be located at the top of the steps.  There are still several embassies in this area including the French embassy.  We climbed up the steps and admired the view from the top.  It had great views of Rome where you can see St. Peter’s basilica as well as the Altar of the Fatherland which can be seen from almost anywhere in a Rome.

Villa Borghese

We also ventured into Villa Borghese, a massive park located in central Rome.  Like everywhere in Rome, this park had loads of sculptures and fountains in a large treed green space.  A nice place to hang out for a few mins!

Another fountain in Rome, these things are everywhere!

Continuing our sightseeing tour we also saw the Trevvi Fountain and came across the Alter of the fatherland which was much bigger than we expected!  The alter was built as a tomb for the first king of Italy in the early 1900’s.

For lunch we decided to make our first stop of our impromptu pizza crawl at Rosciolis Pizza!  What an amazing pizza place!!!  We walked into the bakery and were greeted with a large spread of pizza choices alongside sweet treats.

Rosciolis Pizza

Roman Pizza is prepared in long narrow sheets and is cut to order depending on the size that you want.  You pay per weight so the size is up to you.  We got a selection of types and began to chow down.

Both of us were stuffed once we finished and used the rest of the day to burn it off.  I should also mention that we may have gone back later in the day for some sweet treats and a little more pizza, we couldn’t resist!  One of our favourite quotes from the trip was in reference to a slice of decadent Rosciolis pizza, “It’s like eating butter, really good butter”.  The aspect that I really enjoyed about Rosciolis was that they tended to used garlic oil instead of the traditional tomato sauce, something is very much prefer.  The crust was soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside and the toppings were fresh and amazing.  The service was quick and efficient.

The next day we continued our pizza crawl by using the commuter rail to visit the area near the Vatican.  After a short walk we arrived at Bonci.  This joint also came highly recommend and after a positive experience at Rosciolis our expectations were high.  We grabbed a ticket and began to wait, and wait, and wait for our number to be called.

Bonci Pizza

Bonci Pizza

Eventually after about a 30min wait it was our turn and we made our selections, payed, and began to consume!  The pizza was also very good with fresh toppings and a nice crust.  One difference was that they reheat the pizza in the oven before they serve it to you.  We discussed the quality of the service at Bonci and decided that it was very lacking.  We waited almost an hour to get some pizza and it wasn’t even that busy.  The fact that they reheat the pizza I think delays the entire process drastically.  At Rosciolis the entire process took about 2 mins to order, pay, and receive your food.  At Bonci as I mentioned it took almost an hour to get pizza that was arguably not as good.  That being said we both agreed that we enjoyed Rosciolis more!  Later in the day we also visited the Vatican taking in the views of St. Peter’s basilica and St. Peters square.

The Vatican and St. Peter’s square

The following day was our scheduled lunch at Rosciolis.  I should mention that Rosciolis has a deli/restaurant, a bakery, and a cafe all within walking distance.  The Rosciolis deli was highly recommended and reservations were required to get in.  It is said to be one of the best restaurants in Rome.  We started of our meal with one appetizer of mortadella with shaved Parmesan on top and another of goose foie gras with fresh crispy bread.  Both were amazing and the waiter recommended a red wine to accompany.  Our main pasta courses were a carbonara with crispy pork cheek on top and the classic Roman dish of Cacio e Pepe.  Both were absolutely amazing with perfect al dente pasta.  We also ordered a meatball dish which we shared because we were both already full.  Finally they brought us a little dessert of two cookies with melted chocolate for dipping.  This was one of the best meals of the trip and we both thoroughly enjoyed every aspect.

Our pasta course.

The arrangement of meats at Rosciolis

We sat in a nearby park to recover for a few mins and then made our way over to the colosseum and Roman forum to view some of the ancient sights.

The Colosseum

A piece of the Roman forum

For our last day in Rome I had the opportunity to enjoy another bowl of cacio e Pepe and a nice glass of wine and we relaxed and got ready for our flight the next day.

Cacio e Pepe

Oh, and we also had one last gelato which actually turned out to be the best gelato of the entire trip.

Our great gelato

This concluded our trip and I hope you have enjoyed the entries.  Till next time…

So much Duomo!

Our trip from Milan to Florence took about 2 hours on the 300km/h high speed FresciaRossa line.  Always a fun time on high speed trains! Once in Florence we performed the now common task of orientating ourselves at the train station and then proceeding to walk to our next Airbnb.  After about a 20 min walk we arrived at our new digs which had the added benefit of A/C, a welcome discovery!  What happened next was the customary coin flip and I was once again stuck with the sofa bed while the other got the master suite.  Since it was World Cup we decided to go into Florence to find a pub to watch the game from.  As we walked into the downtown area for the first time we quickly noticed the amount of tourists in this city was astounding.  It was very common to hear people speaking English to one another as we walked through the streets.  We later found out from a waiter that the current tourist trend is Russians, Brazilians, and Americans alongside the usual British and Scandinavians.  As we toured around we got a brief glimpse of the Duomo as well as some of the other tall structures in the city.  As the time approached 7pm we found a spot on google maps and managed to find a seat in a crowded pub and settled in to watch England loose to Croatia in extra time.  The pub was full of British people which were not happy about the outcome but had a good time nonetheless.

The Arno River.

On day two we decided we would venture over the Arno river and into the south side of Florence.  Here we saw what remains of the old city walls and a large southern gate from the 1400’s.  Much of the wall had been razed during various attacks so only select sections remain.

The old south entrance to the city.

After a quick water break we ventured into what we thought was the Boboli gardens which was a disappointment until we realized we were in the wrong park.  After finding the correct Boboli gardens we admired many of the sculptures and hedged walkways that the garden has to offer.

One of the many statues in Boboli gardens.

Eventually we made the climb to the top and admired the wonderful views of Florence from the Fontana delle scimmie and the Vasca delle Nettuno (fountain of Neptune).

The fountain of Neptune.

We were also interested in visiting the Piazzale Michelangelo to witness some more panoramic views of Florence so we proceeded to walk down one hill and thought that walking up another would be too much work.

The trip downhill, luckily it was a one way street so you see the cars racing upward and move away instead of being hit.

It sounded like a perfect time for a break and a couple Aperol Spritzers!  Once refreshed we joined the crowds of tourists for the climb up to the lookout.  Hopefully the pictures do it some justice.

View from the top with the Duomo on the left in the distance.

Another shot.

As the sun went down we found a restaurant in the downtown area for some dinner.  We chose Osteria dei Pazzi and both enjoyed some appetizers as well as a monster Florention Steak cooked to the chefs preference of medium-rare.

Florentine Steak cooked to medium-rare

After a giant gelato that ended up costing us 8€ we wandered back to our home for the night.  On our way home we discovered a party in a park near our home where people of all ages were dancing and drinking late into the night.  A fun sight for us to see!

The local party scene.

The next day was our Duomo day!  I had bought the tickets while we were still in Milan and had reserved a time for us to make the ascent.  With both of us being a little scared of heights we were hesitant but up for the challenge.  We made our way into the city and had some pizza for lunch alongside a couple more Aperol Spritzers before making our way over to the Duomo for our reserved time.

The cathedral from the outside.

View of the Duomo from the Bell Tower.  The cupola where we would be is visible just above the red bricks of the duomo.

We passed through security with ease and started the 463 step climb up to the cupola.  As you perform the climb you arrive at a walkway constructed at the beginning of the dome that overlooks the cathedral floor below.  Here they have installed plexiglass barriers to prevent people from falling over as the stone railing probably doesn’t meet current safety requirements.  This was an especially challenging part as there is only one way up to the cupola and you have to wait on the ledge looking down for people to come down first.  Eventually our time came and we began to navigate the narrow passageways towards the top.

A couple facts about the Duomo:

– it spans 45m at its widest, starts 55m above the floor of the cathedral, and consists of 463 steps to get to the cupola at the top,

– because of the height above the floor that the dome starts it was not feasible to use scaffolding, Brunelleschi built the dome layer by layer using internal rubbing.

– the dome also contains two layers, an inner and outer layer.  This allowed for protection from the elements of the inner staircases and also so that the inner hallways would not been seen once completed.

– there no abutments along the bottom of the dome to keep it from spreading laterally, this is why Brunelleschi chose ribbing both vertically and horizontally.

– construction of the dome began in 1420 after a two year competition. It was eventually finished in 1436.

Inside the dome walls.

Looking out from inside the dome.

Climbing to the top! And yes it is that steep (like climbing a ladder) and not for the faint of heart.

Once at the top we took a few mins to soak in the views (and the height!) and made our way back down to the ground.

North facing view.

South facing view.

We also made use of the other aspects of our tickets and explored the baptistery and climbed up the bell tower next to the cathedral.  A great investment for only 18€.  We also walked to the fancy Ponte Vecchio which is a bridge crossing the Arno river that is home to many expensive jewelry shops.  In the evening we enjoyed a couple more Negroni before having a wonderful pasta dinner.

Ravioli stuffed with porchinni mushrooms and eggplant.

The Arno River.  You can slightly see Ponte Vecchio in the back right.  It’s a bridge but all the shops built on top make it look like a continuation of the city.

The Arno River.

Our last day in Florence was a bit of a relaxation day as both of us were feeling pretty tired from all the walking we had been doing.  We were averaging about 30,000 steps every day.  We got up a little later and I grabbed some focaccia and cherries at the local grocery for brunch.

A truck on a truck I saw while walking to the grocery store.

Later we walked into the downtown core and found a nice sandwich shop right next to the restaurant we had gone to the night before.  We were hoping to go to the sandwich place earlier but the open hours were strange and it had been closed the other times.  We both got our sandwiches (I got chicken while the other got some sort of pulled beef soaked in oil) and we sat in the nearby Piazza della Signoria to eat and people watch.  People watching in Florence is very interesting because of all the tourists from all over the world.  So many different cultures.

As many had mentioned to me before I left, the amount of statues and sculptures in Italy is insane!  Every corner you turn around contains another sculpture on the side of a few hundred year old building.  Crazy!

Another sculpture on the side of a church like building.

We walked back to our apartment stopping for one last gelato on the way and layed down for the night.  The next day was a travel day, we would catch the high speed train at S.M. Novella station bound for Rome Termini.


Milan, our Italian journey begins!

We decided to fly from London Stansted to Bergamo airport in Italy on the budget airline Ryanair.  Although inexpensive, you get almost nothing on these flights except a seat and seatbelt (which doesn’t cost extra!).  To avoid incurring any additional fees at the airport which has happened in the past, we checked in from our hotel and also decided to pay the extra 7£ fee per person for priority boarding and two cabin bags.  It should be noted that this fee jumps to 50£ at the airport if you do not select it ahead of time.  Once on the plane we sat there, and sat there, and sat there until finally the pilot came onto the overhead speakers.  In an Irish accent he said something along the lines of, “due to the English not being able to schedule anything properly, they haven’t finished the flight plan and we also have no ground crew, they probably went for lunch.”  He said it could be a while and would keep us posted.  We had been on the plane over an hour already.  About 15 mins later the pilot said they had approved the flight plan and were sending a ground crew which appeared shortly after holding sandwiches and coffees.  They had indeed gone for lunch!  So after an hour and a half we were finally on our way to Italy!  Our flight took us over France, Germany, Switzerland, and eventually over northern Italy.

Flying over Britain with Standsted airport visible on the left of the wingtip.

It was unfortunate, if we had been there just a few days later we would have seen Donald Trump and Airforce One touch down.

Some of the Swiss Alps from the air.

Lake Como

Once we touched down and cleared customs (which involved a boarder guard distracted on his phone while stamping passports) we found a bus to go to Milan and arrived at the central train station.

The bus into Milan.

From there we walked to our Airbnb and got settled in.  We were pretty tired at this point so we went to the local grocery store and bought and assortment of meats and cheeses and some focaccia and sat down to watch the World Cup in our Airbnb.

The wine prices at the corner store. (1€~$1.17 USD).

The next day we continued to explore Milan including the Sforzesco Castle and the 3rd biggest cathedral in the world the Duomo di Milano.  Unfortunately we didn’t make it into the Duomo but the craftsmanship outside was still amazing!

One of several city fountains.

The gardens in front of the castle during dusk.

The Duomo di Milano

A sculpture of Jesus in the manger on the main doors of the Duomo. My assumption is that baby Jesus is polished from the many hands that touch him.

Milan is more of an industrial city so the amount of foreign tourists that we noticed was less compared to London and New York.  We also had our first opportunity to try the popular Italian cocktail the Negroni.  When we ordered two Negornis the waiter asked, “Alchohol?” to which we replied yes.  To this day we are both convinced that it had almost 500mL of alchohol and nothing else, all for just 6€.

The Negroni!

Once we had finished we slowly made our way over to “Pescaria” for a delicious seafood sandwich in a turtle shaped toasted bun.

A local bakery that provided us with Focaccia and sweet treats each morning!

Gelato from “Il Massimo del Gelato” located just around the corner from our Airbnb. These flavours are coffee and mango!

Our last few days contained more signseeing as well as a ride on their tram network on a ATM series 1500 tram from the 1930’s which was a big hit!

Streetcar #1935 built sometime in the early 1930’s (number has no bearing on year built).

We also enjoyed several cocktails at a popular spot “Rita” in the Naviglio Grande canal region where the apperitivo of chips, carrots, and bread bites comes standard with every drink.

Naviglio Grande region

Lastly we dined at 100 Montaditos, a popular spot for the seasoned traveler.  Tomorrow we move onto the next area, Florence!

…then we take London???

Well maybe it’s not exactly how the Leonard Cohen song goes, but close enough!

After a long flight we finally made it to London’s Gatwick airport at 11 am local time (6 am EST).  We funneled of the plane and made our way to customs where an absolute zoo of people were already in line for the border force customs checkpoint.  It took us about an hour to get through and then we were off into the airport.  Unfortunately the main Gatwick Express train was out of commission so we used google maps to make use of the commuter rail instead.  It was a quick ride but by the time we arrived at London’s London Bridge Station it was already almost 2 in the afternoon.  Eventually we made it to our hotel and were able to throw our packs down for the next leg.  With only one of us having been to London before, the other was eager to see the sights and sounds of the big city!  We ventured over to a local pub for a beer and then made our way to another spot for dinner.  I enjoyed a lasagna while the other had some beef stew with greens and mash.  Both were enjoyed.


After, we made our way towards the newer financial district known as “The City” and saw many of the famous buildings in London.


The Shard and Tower Bridge

The Gherkin

That was all for day one, we walked back to our hotel and slept well that night!  Day two promised more sightseeing and good food!



When we woke, we realized that our hotel was right next to a ready mix concrete plant.  Who would have thought that there would be a ready-mix plant in the middle of the city?  Needless to say I thought it was pretty neat!

The Ready-mix plant

We made our way over to Buckingham palace for the changing of the guard ceremony and later walked through Hyde park.  After a quick stop at Pret a Mange for lunch we saw the British Parliament, Big Ben (completely covered in scaffolding) and made our way across the Thames and into the shard area of downtown.

Trafalger Square

Liverpool St. Station

Old vs. New

A view of “The City” from across the Thames, Millenium bridge in the foreground.

Here we found a sports bar and sat down to watch France beat Uruguay in the World Cup.  We enjoyed a few pints before leaving to make our dinner reservations at 6.  We enjoyed a nice steak dinner at the Hawksmoor Burrough location.  We started off with a cocktail and several oysters.  Among the regular oysters we also enjoyed oysters with bone marrow and breadcrumbs on that were finished under the broiler.  Unfortunately they neglected to tell us where the oysters where from, a fact that usually adds to the experience.  We also enjoyed some steaks, Caesar salad, and triple cooked chips that tasted like regular chips.  All in all a nice meal!  After we walked over to the Shard and were amazed by its height.  The shard is the tallest building in the UK and is 95% owned by the state of Quatar.  We pondered over the idea of using foreign investment to construct national landmarks many times over the next few days.  As the night came to a close we enjoyed the breeze off the Thames and the city lights all around us.  Tomorrow is another travel day, onto our main destination of Italy!


Answering Readers Questions on HISA cash deposits

Responding to my HISA Rates page, a reader recently asked me about three interest bearing investments:

Purpose ETF

The Purpose High Interest Savings ETF is an Exchange Traded Fund listed on the TSX which is composed of deposits held at various Canadian deposit taking banks, trust companies, and credit unions. According to their website, the fund currently holds deposits with the following institutions: National Bank of Canada, Manulife Bank of Canada, First West Credit Union, First Calgary Credit Union, Coast Capital SavingsProspera Credit UnionVancouver City Savings Credit Union, BlueShore Credit Union, Westminster Savings.

Any Canadian investor with a brokerage account able to trade on the TSX can invest in this ETF. Your rate of return will be linked to the interest received by the fund from these deposit taking institutions. Their rates will be similar (and sometimes higher) to the rates offered by the large(er) institutions offering High Interest Savings Account mutual funds. Investors can buy and sell the Purpose High Interest Savings ETF just like they would shares of stocks on the TSX, and I assume there is also a market maker working to ensure liquidity of this ETF.  I’m not sure about the advantages of using this ETF other than potentially receiving a modestly higher interest rate, but with today’s low interest rates, we’re talking about fractions of a percent.

For most individual investors, since they are usually under the insured limit ($100,000 for CDIC deposits) it doesn’t help to diversify their cash deposits. As long as your cash deposits are less than $100,000, my recommendation is to use a single HISA with the highest rate and switch only when a better rate becomes available.

The two USD money market funds

The CIBC and RBC US$ money market funds mentioned by a reader are US dollar Canadian money market mutual funds. Each of these funds invests in US dollar denominated money market investments such as commercial paper and various types of trusts and asset backed notes. These mutual funds should be considered low risk, but are not risk free. These mutual funds also are slightly higher risk than High Interest Savings Accounts because the creditworthiness of the securities in these mutual funds is slightly lower than the CDIC insured deposits found of HISAs. In the grand scheme of risk though, these two US dollar money market mutual funds are still low risk. If you are a Canadian based investor with a US dollar cash portion of your portfolio, these two mutual funds are probably a good place to park your cash, if you are willing to understand the risks, you will receive a higher rate of interest compared to straight insured cash deposits, and you’ll also receive a higher rate of interest compared to what you’ll get if you just leave the US dollars sitting in your account.

Lending Loop

Investing in P2P lending sites such as Lending Loop is probably on the higher risk side of the risk spectrum. As an investor, participating in a P2P site like Lending Loop means you will be making syndicated business loans. A small business might use Lending Loop to get a loan at a rate and terms that are better than what they could get from their bank, and your loan to them will make up a portion of the total amount they borrow. A common strategy for P2P lending is to take your investment and build a portfolio of loans to various borrowers over a range of credits and timeframes that suit your investment objectives. Since the market for P2P loans is still a lot less developed than other forms of lending in Canada, as an investor, you should understand that you’re taking more risk and accepting a potentially higher reward.

P2P lending is not a substitute for a cash deposit, but it can make up a portion of fixed income portfolio, with a risk profile closer to high yield bonds than to cash.

First we take Manhattan…

Our first stop on our multi leg journey brought us to beautiful New York City!  The trip got off to a little bit of a slow start with one of our flights being two hours delayed and mine being cancelled all together.  Luckily I was able to find shelter for the night with a good friend and the other had a night to himself in NYC.  He hit up a couple local bars including one of NYC’s oldest Irish bars McSorley’s Old Ale House which first opened in the mid 19th century.

A slow start to the trip as both of us were ready to get going.

The next morning I woke up at 4:30 in order to catch my early rebooked flight.  With minimal delay and short boarder lines in Newark I was in the city by 10 o’clock and met with my travelling partner at the hotel.  Finally!  After a quick nap we started our time in NYC.

Our first stop on our informal pizza crawl was Joe’s Pizza on Carmine, an establishment and staple for locals in the West Village since 1975.

The interior of Joe’s pizza

We both got a cheese slice and enjoyed how they finished it again in the oven before service.  Our second stop brought us to Prince St. Pizza just a few blocks away where the pizza although still tasty was a little more sloppy and lacked the crunch we had enjoyed from Joe’s.

With the temperatures before in the 30’s with ‘feels like’ in the low 40’s we felt it best to head back to the hotel for a short refresher and break from the heat.  After we had regained our strength we ventured across the Williamsburg bridge and into Brooklyn which for one of us was a first.  We had the goal of finding a sports bar to watch the World Cup and immediately realized that we were not the only ones.  Every bar we passed was packed with people with standing room at a premium.  Eventually we landed on a joint where we could watch England defeat Columbia from the street.

Once the game was over we managed to find a spot for a quick beer and then we were off to meet an old friend.  Once introductions had been made I was given a choice and decided that we should head towards Roberta’s pizza in Brooklyn.  All three of us thoroughly enjoyed the two pies we ordered.  The first titled “Freak on a Leash” contained ricotta, caciocavallo, speck, pea leaf, and a cilantro garnish and the second was the “Famous Original” which has the usual mozzarella, parmesan, chili oil, and oregano.  Both were delicious!

Our last day in NYC was again very warm but at least there was not the threat of any rain.  We started the day a little later by going to Katz’s deli for a pastrami sandwich and then off into the city again!

A Katz’s Sandwich

We made our way over to the Staten Island ferry and enjoyed the free shuttle to the island and back.

Our view while on the ferry

We enjoyed a quick beer at a patio near Wall st. and then moved on to JFK airport.  After making it through the madness that is JFK and the TSA, we found our gate and waited for our double decker 747 straight out of the 90’s.  It was comfortable flight but the length made us quite stiff.  Our time in NYC was done and we were off to the next adventure!

What is PokerShares?

PokerShares is a website where users can bet on poker players. The site also offers odds on poker related events and poker props. I noticed recently PokerShares being mentioned by a bunch of people in the poker community including Daniel Negreanu, so below is an initial review of the PokerShares.

It seems like PokerShares offers users the ability to bet using fixed odds on a large variety of poker players in a number of tournaments. It also seems like this is not a marketplace of odds, so users are betting against the house (in this case PokerShares) instead of each other.

I signed up for the site, and new users are required to submit a bunch of personal information such as their name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. This seems like a lot of information to give to some site I’m just learning about, but I submitted the signup forms, and received a confirmation e-mail. After I confirmed my e-mail and logged into the site, a message was displayed asking me to confirm my identity by sending PokerShares a copy of my passport. They warn that if I do not confirm my identity in 14 days, that my account will become inactive.

After logging in, I scroll over to the 2018 WSOP main event page and I can see a long list of players offered. I notice some big names such as Phil Ivey are listed, but they don’t have other players such as Justin Bonomo listed for the WSOP main event.  There are four columns listed in the table of players that users can bet on: their name, markup, price/1%, and % available. Using the price of Adrian Mateos as a guide, he is priced at a markup of 4.3 so his price per 1% is $430, and the book seems to be taking up to $20,000 worth of bets on him. A $10 bet on Adrian Mateos will pay $1,895.35 if he wins. This makes his implied odds = 10 / 1,895.35 = 189.50.  These odds are implying an 0.527% chance that Adrian Mateos wins the main event.

If we assume the 2018 WSOP main event gets 7,000 entrants, then the raw likelihood of Adrian Mateos winning is 7,000. So with odds of 190, it seems pretty expensive to bet on Adrian Mateos?  Is Adrian Mateos that much better than the average player in the field?  Maybe, I don’t know enough about WSOP main event odds to say.

At first glance, the way prices are set on PokerShares seems a bit convoluted, but I can see what they are going for. In poker, its common to invest and trade shares in players (and yourself) as a way to spread risk and raising money, so by presenting the betting as a way of “investing” in shares of poker players builds off this culture. On the other hand, the pricing format kinda obscures the information and makes it a bit more difficult to determine the odds.

If anyone has further comments on PokerShares, please post your comments below in the comments section, I would love to learn more about how this market works.